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A Different Perspective: Defending Christmas traditions

Posted: Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2013

It’s too early to comment on the recent Connecticut tragedy; I will wait to address some of the issues involved at a later date. We all mourn the loss, pray for the families.

Last week I commented on the continuous assault upon religious liberty under the guise of “separation of church and state.” Recently, I viewed for the second time a film, popular among conservative and Christian groups, that addresses the national “war on Christmas” and our loss of religious freedom.

The film is called “Last Ounce of Courage” and relates the struggle of the mayor of a small Colorado town and his efforts to restore Christmas traditions to his community. The film is unabashedly patriotic which led to it being panned by critics, so what else is new?

In movies there are villains, this film no exception. The leader of a militant secularist group from Washington, D.C., takes exception to the Mayor’s efforts to restore the trappings of a traditional Christmas and threatens legal action against the town, asserting that any display of a Christmas tree, religious themed decorations or public expressions of a religious nature are all illegal and a “violation of separation of church and state.”

I’m getting ahead of myself. The mayor is a Vietnam War hero and his son, recently married, is departing for military service overseas. By implication, one assumes it is the First Gulf War of 1991 against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The son is killed-in-action and the father withdraws into himself, the daughter-in-law and newborn grandson move away.

Fourteen years later the story resumes with the family re-united and the grandson asking about his father’s sacrifice and why nobody celebrates Christmas anymore.

I won’t spoil it for you if you want to watch the movie. However, I had some problems with it. First, there were numerous technical flaws in the movie about the military; both uniforms and procedures were incorrect, the historical references about both the Vietnam War and the Gulf War were more myth than factually-based though they fulfilled directorial license for an uninformed civilian audience.

My main concern, however, was the film failed to adequately inform people of their rights and ability to defend their religious liberties. The mayor is arrested in one scene, for erecting a cross on a private building, on the grounds “it offended someone.”

So too were Christmas decorations deemed illegal that he erected, including a Christmas tree in front of the courthouse. None of the mayor’s actions were illegal.

We have a national Christmas tree at the White House and there are numerous court decisions, including Supreme Court cases, permitting mixed decorations on public property, so long as they include secular themes and allow religious expression of other faiths, or non-believers as well.

Another scene has the grandson being counseled in the principal’s office for bringing a small Bible to school (it was found in his locker). The principal returned the Bible to the grandfather, wrapped in brown paper as if it was porn.

The First Amendment protects religious speech against government infringement, including the right of a student to read or carry a Bible on school property.

The film fails to inform citizens of their legal remedies to defend their rights and neither the grandfather nor grandson effectively exercised their legal options to fight back. That aside, the film is available as a rental, has an upbeat ending and is worth an evening at home with the family. Merry Christmas!

Al Fonzi is a retired Army Lt. Colonel and career intelligence officer with more than 30 years of service. He is a self-described conservative and active in several political organizations. Fonzi first moved to Atascadero in 1972.

For the complete article see the 12-21-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-21-2012 paper.

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